Showing posts with label Gangwon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gangwon. Show all posts

Friday, December 15, 2017

Local Delicacies in Pyeongchang

" First we eat, then we do everything else." 
- M.F.K. Fisher

One of the joys of traveling is the opportunity to taste and appreciate local delicacy. Korea is surrounded mostly surrounded by the sea and 70% of the land is mountainous. Regions within Korea are bounded by steep mountain ranges and rivers. Thus, climate conditions vary within these regions and hence, there is a great variety of natural produce. During our winter trip to Pyeongchang, we got to taste and enjoy the various local delicacies as recommended by our pension hosts. 
Hwangtae (Dried Pollack)
 
Pyeongchang is the birthplace of yellow dried pollack. The fish is left to dry for weeks under the winter sun and it can get as tough as cowhide. In fact, dried pollack is considered the national delicacy. Our pension host recommended this place and even drove us to the restaurant. This place must be very popular for there is always a constant stream of diners walking into the restaurant. 
Hwangtae contains almost twice as much protein as fresh pollack due to the lengthy freeze-dying process. It is also a high-nutrient, low cholesterol health food. It is rich in amino acids, which is believed to aid the liver to recover from heavy drinking. 
Hanwoo Beef
Hanwoo is one of the four indigenous Korean breeds and it is regarded as a premium beef because of its high palatability and desired chewiness. Hoengseong County in Gangwon-do is best known for its hanwoo cattle, where the environment is well-suited for cattle farming. 
You get to choose your own meat from the butcher or buy from the pre-packaged section, then head to a table and grill the meat for a small table fee, which includes an assorted variety of banchan. 
The meat literally melts in your mouth, yum!
Osam Bulgogi 
Osam bulgogi is a dish made from squid and pork belly, marinated in a blend of seasonings and then cooked over a grill with vegetables. This dish is well-known for its texture, hence making it the ideal dish to eat with rice and/or goes well with wine. In fact, according to this report, a new food alley for this dish will be developed near Alpensia Resort, the main venue for the Winter Olympics. 
Dalgakbi
Dakgalbi (spicy stir-fried chicken) is not only a representative dish of Chuncheon, but also famous across the entire nation. Listening to the sizzling sound made from stir-frying the marinated chicken in gochujang-based sauce within the cast iron pan will make you salivate! Nothing goes to waste in this dish, for the remaining sauce is used for making fried rice after devouring the grilled chicken. 

These are just some of the Korean cuisines that we tasted over winter in Pyeongchang. I will be back with more local cuisines as I sort out our Korea adventures, stay tuned!


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Ski Resorts in Korea


There is just something magical about winter. It could be the smell of holiday season lingering in the air; it could be the snow-covered pavements; it could be the warmth from the cup of coffee that you hold in your hands. Winter season in Korea typically lasts from December to early March and with temperatures falling to sub-zero degrees, it is the best time to head to a ski resort and enjoy the winter activities. Gangwon-do province is surrounded by lush mountains and pristine waters. Due to the wet winter winds across Taebaeksan Mountains, the province gets a lot of snow hence a lot of ski resorts are located in the area, making it the winter sports capital. Boasting beautiful snow-capped views, Gangwon-do is an ideal winter getaway.
YongPyong Resort
Opened in 1975, YongPyong Resort is the birthplace of the development and popularization of skiing in Korea. It has hosted various international events and is currently one of the host stadiums for the Winter Olympics Games. With a ski area of 16,200,000m², the resort has 28 slopes and 14 lift facilities. The main slope, "Rainbow Slopes" will be there the Alpine Skiing competition is held for the coming games. 
On one of the 14 chairlifts, which took us to the start of the slopes.
Address: 715 Olympic-ro, Daegwallyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do
Website: www.yongpyong.co.kr
*image credit to KTO
Phoenix Park 
As the venue for free-style skiing and snowboarding events of the Winter Olympic Games, this clearly shows that Phoenix Park is equipped with world-class facilities, particularly those that address the thrilling need for speed of ski and snowboard enthusiasts. Of the total 21 slopes that allow skiers to experience dynamic speed, 12 have been officially approved by the FIS. The beginner course "Panorama" is 2.4km long and reaches the top of the mountain.
Address: 174 Taegi-ro, Bongpyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do
Website: www.phoenixpark.co.kr
*image credit to KTO
High1 Resort
High1 Resort offers 18 slopes, including a 4.2km beginner slope that starts at the peak of Jijangsan Mountain at an altitude of 1,345m. Three gondolas and 7 chairlifts knit the slopes like spider web to maximise your winter sports experience. The facilities have been designed to ensure safely for everyone, including those with disabilities. The resort also has extensive accommodation facilities with a variety of convenience facilities, as well as a casino and golf course to make your stay even more enjoyable. 
Address: 265 High1-gil, Sabuk-eup, Jeongseon-gun, Gangwon-do
Website: www.high1.co.kr
*image credit to KTO
Alpensia Resort
As the main venue for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics Games, Alpensia Resort is often known as the "Alps of Asia". Situated 700m above sea level in Daegwallyeong, Alpensia offers 6 slopes of various gradients allowing visitors to enjoy thrilling rides. The "Foxtrot" and "Echo" slopes are advanced courses certified by FIS while the "Bravo" slope is designed for beginners. 

Alpensia is also an integrated tourist complex that is open all year round, featuring european-styled accommodations, a convention center, water park and a 45-hole golf course. You can enjoy skiing in winter or golfing during spring/autumn. Nearby the resort, there is also a marvellous National Park and other tourist sites that will make your trip even more interesting. 
Address: 325 Solbong-ro, Daegwallyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do
Website: www.alpensiaresort.co.kr
With the opening of the KTX Ganggyeong Line, visitors can reach these resorts within 2 hours. Remember to get your Pyeongchang KORAIL pass to explore these areas!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Pyeongchang Korail Pass


Visitors to Korea are no strangers to the KORAIL pass, where each pass can be used within the designated duration period. We bought the KORAIL pass during the last summer visit, where we travelled on the KTX from Seoul to Busan on one of the trips.
Arriving at Seoul station bright and early for the 3-hour journey. If you are overwhelmed by the number of tracks/trains, just approach one of the staff and they will guide you to the right platform. 
The trains are well-maintained and clean. The train journey was so comfy that I fell asleep without knowing it. Before we knew it, we arrived at Busan for our adventure. Since we are at the topic of trains, let me bring you another exciting news as part of Pyeongchang Olympics Games shout-out: PyeongChang KORAIL pass! Read on to find out more. 

PyeongChang KORAIL Pass
This pass is specially introduced to commemorate the Olympics Games for foreigners/visitors going to Korea. Like the KORAIL pass, this pass can be used unlimited times on KTX and other Korail-operated trains throughout Korea (between 1st Feb 2018 till 25th Mar 2018). The pass is available for 5-day or 7-day (consecutive), which is a decent period of time you will need to explore the various regions. Ticket sales will be open until 10th Jan 2018. Purchase your pass through 3 simple steps: 

1. Visit the official website at www.letskorail.com/pyeongchang
2. Select the type of pass - either 5-day or 7-day
3. Select the pass start date (date of first use)

Seats can be selected up to 30 days in advance. Please print your ticket and bring along with your passport when using the train. You may be asked to present these items while on the train and/or when collecting your commemorative travel card. 

Pass Types and Cost
Available in 5-day or 7-days.
*image credit to KTO
If you are travelling in groups of 2-5 people, you can purchase the "Saver" pass.

Benefits of PyeongChang KORAIL Pass
That is not all! If you purchase the pass between 10th Oct 2017 to 10th Jan 2018, you will get to enjoy the following benefits:

1. Commemorative reloadable prepaid transportation card value at KRW5,000. This can be collected at designated locations when purchasing the pass. 
2. 10% discount luggage storage and shipping through Airport Railroad.
3. Various discounts with affiliated partners. See this link for more details. 

Recommended places to visit in Gangwon
The famous Dragon Peak at Yongpyong Resort, which is also the filming site of K-dramas such as Goblin and Winter Sonata. This place is really beautiful during winter, where you will see a thick blanket of snow covering the area. 
My favourite place, Nami Island. Check out the cute snowman dressed in Xmas coats. I have recommended this place as part of Gangwon Autumn series, but you can always make a visit during winter too. I tend to make a trip here every time I'm in Korea. This place is just too beautiful to be missed! 

Since winter is coming, it is still not too late to start planning your winter adventures in Korea. Hurry and hop over to www.letskorail.com/pyeongchang and start clicking away! 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Autumn in Gangwon

As we bid farewell to the summer heat, it is time to usher in the fall season. The first thing that came to my mind was autumn foliage. Temperatures during the fall month average around 10-20 degrees Celsius, which make it the most ideal season to travel. Fall foliage begins in late September in the colder regions of Gangwon-do province and creeps down to the warmer Southern regions. Dates for peak fall colours vary, but the 16 national mountain parks around the country boasts the best fall foliage views. The forecast for the first foliage and peak foliage at popular national parks are shown below. 
(credits: Kweather)

AUTUMN AT NAMI ISLAND
Our first autumn experience was in Japan; standing at the top of Kiyomizu-dera overlooking the autumn foliage was simply amazing. Last autumn, we did a self-drive trip in Jeju before continuing the rest of our journey in Seoul. Needless to say, I have to head to one of my fave places in Korea - Nami Island - for the autumn foliage. 
It was almost mid day when we arrived and check out the crowd waiting to board the ferry from Nami back to the main island! If you are paying a visit during this period, be sure to allow at least 1h of waiting time in the queue. 
The well-wishes "tunnel" whereby you can write your wishes on a leaf-shaped memo and tie it to the metal railings. As Nami is engulfed with a romantic atmosphere, we do see a lot of memos seeking and praying for love :) 
A cute little squirrel fussing over his seed cone.   
Nami island's winter scenary was already made famous by Winter Sonata, but the fall scenery also makes a strong impression thanks to the scarlet maple trees. We got to enjoy the crimson foliage of autumn, as we strolled along the walking trails over the island. 
Nami Island
Address: 1 Namiseon-gil, Namsan-myeon, Chuncheon-si, Gangwon-do
Tel: +82 31 580 8114
AUTUMN AT SEORAKSAN NATIONAL PARK
(credits: Korea Tourism Organisation)

Seoraksan is the most iconic mountain of Gangwon-do and stretches through three countries of the province. Every fall, it is one of the first mountains in Korea to be coloured with autumn foliage, with mid-October being the best time to view this splendid scenery. Visitors can view the beautiful temples hidden within the mountain, most notably Baekdamsa and Sinheungsa or reach the Gwongeumseong Fortress by taking the cable car, where the East Sea can be viewed from above. You can also soak in the carbonated and alkaline hot springs, located at the end of Jujeongol Valley on Hangyeryeong Pass. 
Seoraksan Mountain
833 Seoraksan-ro, Sokcho-si, Gangwon-do
AUTUMN AT GANGCHON RAILPARK
If you are a fan of Running Man, this railway park would not be a stranger to you since it made its appearance in ep 144. Gangchon railway bike is near to Nami island and this 6km Gangchon Rail Bike experience, starting from Gimyujeong Station lets you soak in the stunning landscapes and picturesque sights of the island. 
We cycled down on an abandoned railway, which Mugunghwa train used to travel for a span of 70 years. We passed by the enchanting Bukhangang river, which stretches for 318km! The cool breeze made it easier for us to peddle down the track and it was a great workout! 
There is a resting spot at the halfway mark and we got some snacks for refueling before continuing the rest of the journey. Once we reached the finishing point, we got to rest our tired calves as we hop onto the free shuttle bus back to the station. Thankfully we don't have to ride the railway bike back! 
Gangchon Railway Bike
Address: 1383 Gimyujeong-ro, Sindong-myeon, Chuncheon, Gangwon-do, South Korea
AUTUMN FESTIVALS IN GANGWON
Gangneung Coffee Festival (강릉 커피축제)
There are a couple of festivals in Gangwon to take part, such as the Gangneung Coffee Festival, taking place from 6th Oct till 9th Oct in Gangneung, the city of coffee. The festival celebrates not only the coffee culture in the city but also, the city's past and present culture with a variety of coffee-related events. Visitors can get to enjoy barista performance and also, get to sample a wide range of coffee. Coffee lovers can also take the opportunity to visit Anmok Coffee Street, a 500m long coastal road lined with cafes. Here, visitors can relax with a cup of coffee while taking in the gorgeous sea views. 
Gangneung Anmok Beach Coffee Street
Address: 17 Changhae-ro, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do
Jeongseon Arirang Festival (정선아리랑제)
(credits: Korea Tourism Organisation)

Jeongseon Arirang Festival is held annually in October in an effort to preserve and develop "Jeongseon Arirang", an intangible cultural heritage. Designated as a masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, Arirang is the most beloved Korean folk song. This was handed down by word of mouth through the generations and its lyrics seem to encapsulate the Korean concept of existence and the range of emotions one may experience through it. Anyone may sing it easily and the song continues to be loved today and is continually re adapted to modern times.  
Jeongseon-eup Arari Park
Address: 112, Bongyang-ri, Jeongseon-eup, Jeongseon-gun, Gangwon-do
Some of my friends were afraid of going to Korea due to language barrier. If you are in need of travel information, an interpreter or in an emergency situation, dial 1330 from any phone to reach the Korea Travel Hotline operated by the Korea Tourism Organisation. A friendly and trained staff will be ready to help, providing the interpretation services when needed. Now that we have this sorted out, start packing your bags and head to Korea for a wonderful autumn!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Gangwon: A Journey Through Nature

Gangwon-do province is gifted with nature's riches: to the east lies the azure blue waters of the East Sea and along the mountain range, the backbone of Seoraksan, Odaesan and Taebaeksan mountains each showed off their splendid beauty. Surrounded by lush mountains and pristine waters, the region is often referred to as the "lungs of Korea" for clean air, peaceful valleys and breath-taking views are scattered throughout the region. It is a place to experience true relaxation and revitalize the tired body and mind in the untouched natural environment of Gangwon-do. No wonder that Gangwon-do is the most popular holiday destination for all! Let me take you through the 5 places to visit for a journey through nature in Gangwon-do. 
Seoraksan National Park 설악산국립공원
Seoraksan is the most iconic mountain of Gangwon-do and stretches through 3 counties of the province. With Daecheongbong Peak at its summit, Seoraksan Mountain (whose name literally means "mountains of snow and rocks"), features unique rock formations such as Ulsanbawai Rock and Gongnyong Ridge. Every fall, it is one of the first mountains in Korea to be coloured with autumn foliage, with mid-October being the best time to view this splendid scenery. Also referred to as the "snow-like white rock", the mountain is especially spectacular in winter when it is entirely covered in snow. 
Nami Island 남이섬 종합휴양지
Well-known as a filming site for the ever popular Korean TV drama Winter Sonata, Nami Island boasts an unique and romantic atmosphere. One of the most famous locations on the island is the tree-lined roads, which greets visitors with different colours throughout the year. You can relive the memories of the drama by walking along the path, otherwise there are also many interesting activities and facilities on the island. 
Jeongdongjin Sunrise Park 정동진 해돋이 공원
Jeongdongjin liternally means "due east" and was named so for being located directly east of Seoul's Gwanghwamun Gate. Crowds of people flock to this seaside park every New Year to watch the first sunrise of the year. A view of the coast can be seen immediately upon exiting Jeongdongjin Station, which holds the Guinness World record  for being the station closest to the sea. Not far from the station is Haslla Art World, which is an art garden located on a hill overlooking the green waters of the East Sea. 
Woljeongsa Temple 월정사
The most beautiful fir tree forest trail in Korea leads to the 1000-year-old Woljeongsa Temple, which is surrounded in the natural environment of Odaesan Mountain. This is especially ideal for hiking due to its trails lined with fir trees. At the entrance leading to Woljeongsa Temple, visitors will find restaurants serving set meals featuring over 20 side dishes made with mountain vegetables. A great opportunity to cleanse the body and soul! 
Hwanseongul Cave 환선굴
Hwanseongul Cave is the largest cave of Asia which formed an estimated 530 million years ago. The cave measures 6.2km long, of which 1.6km is open to public. The cave has a complicated structure, full of uniquely-shaped stalactites, stalagmites and is inhabited by many cave creatures. Visitors can take the monorail that departs from the ticket booth to the entrance of the cave, which offers a beautiful view of Deokhangsan Mountain that sits on top of the cave. 

So, start planning your next trip to Gangwon for an experience through nature! Have fun :) 

Images from Korea Tourism Organisation are credited with their watermarks. 


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